Will Kobe Be Left Out in the Free Agency Cold?

Any minute now, The Decision Part II will come down.

It appears that LeBron James will either return to Cleveland or stay in Miami.

Most don't see a wild card team coming out of nowhere. James' announcement will send shockwaves through the Association and start other balls rolling.

At some point, Carmelo Anthony will have to pick his next destination. Is he staying in NYC or going to Chicago? Then decisions will come in for Chris Bosh, Houston or not, and Dwyane Wade.

Plenty of fans and teams will be either upset or thrilled to death with the pending free-agent signing.

One thing that could come out of this is that Kobe Bryant could ultimately wind up being the biggest loser in the madness that is NBA free agency.

A few years ago, you would have been hard-pressed to consider a circumstance where players wouldn't want to a) play with Kobe, b) play in LA and c) get paid mad loot to do so.

The Lakers have all those ingredients this time around. Yet, it appears no one wants the Lakers' money.

Worse, no one wants to play with Kobe, who is coming off a serious knee injury which forced him to miss just about the entire season a year ago.

You expect shutouts in LA. But you expect them from Clayton Kershaw, not Kobe being shutout.

But that appears to be what will happen on judgment day.

Kobe and the Lakers won't add any star power despite cap room to sign one or two big stars to go along with him.

Coming into free agency, all the stories were about how the Lakers – with just three players under guaranteed contracts – were supposed to be major players this time around. They were projected to have $22 million clear under the cap for a new star.

"We're prepared," Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak told the media. "If any of those players do want to make a move, we're prepared.

"And if we get word, when we're allowed to get word, we will go all out."

Melo, who lives in LA in the offseason, took a visit to the Lakers. Some reports still had the Lakers in the mix for his services, others said Melo would return to the Knicks.

Kobe did fly back from Europe to pitch Melo on coming to Hollywood.

And let's not forget that Dwight Howard passed on an extra $30 million to escape Kobe.

In LeBron's decision to stay or go, the sticking point reportedly is that infamous letter Cavs' owner Dan Gilbert wrote blasting James after he bolted for Miami.

James, though, has to get over it. An apology should be good enough. People do dumb things out of frustration all the time.

Going back to Ohio makes perfect sense. It really does.

First, James can go back to where is all started, where he was drafted and beloved.

Yes, Akron's own can go back and make everything right again. He can be forgiven for running out on them when things got tough.

And it matters how people feel about James. He's a sensitive guy, despite being such a big star.

The return to Cleveland would turn public opinion – there and in NBA America, too. James would probably be more well-liked for trying to win a title for his hometown.

The reason James left was because he was afraid that he would have a great career and wind up title-less. The mere thought of it scared James to death. Hence, he fled.

That's behind him now. Those two championships in Miami have put LeBron in a place he can finally relax and just play.

The Michael Jordan comparison is over. James doesn't have to worry or talk about that burden anymore.

That's not to say that James is going to coast to retirement and doesn't want to win again in his career.

James would just be winning in a more meaningful place. Miami was a rental. Cleveland is home.

It would be the stuff legends are made of: the native son comes back and delivers the championship he promised.

James' ultimate goal can simply be to win Cleveland, the city not just the Cavs.

And while it would make a great story, the story of Kobe and the Lakers being shutout would be just as amazing. 

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